Joan Sheldon

Joan Mary Sheldon AM (born 29 April 1943) is an Australian politician. She was a Liberal Party member of the Legislative Assembly of Queensland from 1990 to 2004, representing the electorates of Landsborough (1990-1992) and then Caloundra (1992-2004).[1] She was the state Liberal leader from 1991 to 1998, and served as Deputy Premier in the Borbidge government from 1996 to 1998.[1]

Joan Sheldon

42nd Treasurer of Queensland
In office
19 February 1996  26 June 1998
Preceded byKeith De Lacy
Succeeded byDavid Hamill
Member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly
for Landsborough
In office
28 July 1990  19 September 1992
Preceded byMike Ahern
Succeeded bySeat abolished
Member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly
for Caloundra
In office
19 September 1992  7 February 2004
Preceded byNew seat
Succeeded byMark McArdle
Personal details
Born (1943-04-29) 29 April 1943
Bundaberg, Queensland
Political partyLiberal Party
Alma materUniversity of Queensland

Early life

Sheldon was born in Bundaberg, Queensland, and attended St Bernadette's Primary School and Soubirous College. She studied physiotherapy at the University of Queensland and subsequently studied for a time at Trinity College London. Sheldon operated a physiotherapy practice in Brisbane from 1978 to 1984, when she moved to Caloundra.[2]


A long-time member of the Liberal Party, she contested and won preselection for the National-held seat of Landsborough upon the 1990 resignation of former Premier Mike Ahern. She won an upset victory after Labor declined to stand a candidate, winning a 15% swing in her favour.[3] In November 1991, she defeated Denver Beanland for the Liberal leadership, becoming the first female party leader in Queensland.

An ally of Liberal state president Paul Everingham, she was seen as less hostile to the National Party than her predecessor.[4]

Sheldon led the party to a resounding defeat in the 1992 state election, losing a seat to Labor amidst high-profile tensions with the National Party.[5][6]

She supported proposals for a merger or coalition in the wake of the loss, and subsequently led the Liberal Party back into coalition with the National Party in November 1992, after nine years apart.[7][8]

She subsequently served as Shadow Treasurer under Borbidge in the lead-up to the 1995 state election, which resulted in a one-seat victory for Labor. The result was reversed in February 1996 when a court-ordered by-election resulted in a Liberal victory, and the Liberal-National Coalition gained office with the support of an independent. Sheldon was thus sworn in as Deputy Premier and Treasurer under Borbidge and became the first woman in Queensland to hold these roles. During the transition period of 19 to 26 February 1996, she held several ministries including Attorney-General.[9]

Sheldon was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the 2005 Australia Day Honours for "service to the Queensland Parliament, to support for a range of cultural organisations, and to issues affecting women".[10]


  1. "Sheldon, Mrs Joan Mary (Joan)". Re-Member Database. Queensland Parliament. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  2. McCulloch, John (1994). Women in the Queensland Parliament: 1929-1994 (PDF). Parliament of Queensland. pp. 167–176. Retrieved 11 December 2009.
  3. Roberts, Greg (30 July 1990). "Ahern's old seat goes in blow to Nats". Sydney Morning Herald. p. 4.
  4. Roberts, Greg (12 November 1991). "Beanland dismissal fails to health Bitter QLD Lib split". Sydney Morning Herald. p. 7.
  5. Roberts, Greg (7 September 1992). "Queensland's Liberals mindless idiots: Murray". Sydney Morning Herald. p. 9.
  6. Roberts, Greg (21 September 1992). "QLD Nats, Libs in furore". Sydney Morning Herald. p. 4.
  7. Roberts, Greg (21 September 1992). "Call for merger of opposition". Sydney Morning Herald. p. 4.
  8. Roberts, Greg (23 November 1992). "Opposition links up to counter Qld Govt". Sydney Morning Herald. p. 5.
  9. "Part 2.19 - Alphabetical Register of Members of the Legislative Assembly 1860-2012 and the Legislative Council 1860-1922" (PDF). Queensland Parliamentary Record 2012-2015: The 54th Parliament. Queensland Parliament. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  10. "SHELDON, Joan Mary". Retrieved 30 July 2018.
Parliament of Queensland
Preceded by
Mike Ahern
Member for Landsborough
1990 - 1992
New seat Member for Caloundra
1992 - 2004
Succeeded by
Mark McArdle
Political offices
Preceded by
Denver Beanland
Parliamentary Leader of the Liberal Party in Queensland
Succeeded by
David Watson
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